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Trail Blazers hope to trade No. 3 pick with Simons for star, want to re-sign Grant

Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, OREGON - MARCH 24: Anfernee Simons #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers warms up prior to a game against the Chicago Bulls at Moda Center on March 24, 2023 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images)

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Damian Lillard wants to stay and win in Portland. The Trail Blazers’ front office is committed to building that winner around him. It’s not the sexy transactional story everybody wants, but it’s what league sources have consistently told NBC Sports (and has been reported elsewhere) for more than a year. While Lillard trade talk has gained buzz, until Lillard asks out it is nothing more than a combination of wishful thinking and click-bait speculation.

The dream scenario for the Trail Blazers? Trade the No. 3 pick — which likely means the rights to Scoot Henderson — and a player like Anfernee Simons for another star, something Kevin O’Conner reported on at The Ringer.

My league sources say that Portland’s interest in building around Lillard is genuine. The front office is exploring deals for the no. 3 pick, and it’s also open to moving Anfernee Simons. Jaylen Brown, Pascal Siakam, or Mikal Bridges would make sense as potential targets via trade, but it’s unclear what level of appetite the Blazers have for that kind of trade. Come draft night, they might just pick.

The question is, would the No. 3 pick and Simons be enough to land a star? That depends on how highly a team rates Henderson, who seemed a lock No. 2 pick six months ago but is now seen likely to go No. 3 — with Charlotte taking Brandon Miller at No. 2 — and there is buzz Henderson could fall further than that. In the case of Brooklyn GM Sean Marks, would the No. 3 pick and Simons be enough to give up Mikal Bridges? Marks already knows Bridges is very good, is the Henderson upside worth it? Portland may think they should get more back in that deal, but if a team is not high on Henderson, its leverage slips.

Portland’s rebuilding around Lillard plans include re-signing Jerami Grant, reports Jake Fischer at Yahoo Sports.

Although both franchise and superstar appear to be prioritizing building a true playoff contender around Lillard, with ongoing plans to re-sign forward Jerami Grant as well, sources said.

Plan A and Plan B in Portland are to retool a playoff contending team around Lillard. That may not be what fans outside the Pacific Northwest or other front offices want to hear, but league sources NBC Sports has spoken with have been consistent.

If Portland can’t trade the pick and select Henderson (or whomever), maybe the conversation will start to change. But only Lillard will decide if Lillard is leaving the Trail Blazers.